The Ultimate Guide to Pet Insurance for Your Rescue

The Ultimate Guide to Pet Insurance for Your Rescue

Greetings, Internet denizens! This is your friend Tiberius the dog. I’ve been recently emailing with my friend Winston, a sweet American Bulldog from Denton. He’s a sweet guy who loves taking long naps with his human. He’s a pretty mellow pup, but he has a bad habit he just can’t shake—Winston loves to eat socks. Clean socks are fine, but he really enjoys chomping down on a smelly, worn sock that he’s stolen from the laundry hamper. This causes a lot of problems in Winston’s family, because obviously, eating socks isn’t healthy for their dog. In fact, he’s stolen so many socks that a few weeks ago, he created an intestinal blockage and had to be rushed to the veterinarian. His emergency surgery wasn’t cheap, and it put a financial strain on his people. Now he feels terribly guilty.

If his family had purchased pet insurance, they probably wouldn’t be in such a rough place right now. Sadly, I don’t think they knew that pet insurance even exists. This isn’t surprising: less than one percent of pet owners in the United States are estimated to have insurance policies for their pets.

However, pet insurance is becoming more popular as pet owners learn more about this financially savvy option. In fact, ASPCA customers file a claim every four minutes.

Dog and cat insurance in the United States works very similarly to a human’s health insurance policy. There are different types of coverage available, with some only covering wellness care to exhaustive policies that include illness, injury, hereditary conditions, alternative therapy and behavioral issues.

The Process

One of the best ways to find an insurance company to cover your furry friend is to ask the vet for a few recommendations, as well as a list of the few of the most common health problems with your pet’s breed. Then, contact the insurance companies to start researching which is best for you.  One of the best ways is to simply call and take notes on the following questions:

  • Is there any exclusion to this particular breed?
  • Will premiums increase as my pet ages?
  • Are cancer, specialist visits and emergency visits covered?
  • Is there continual coverage for chronic disease as well as hereditary/congenital disease?
  • Ask about any specific pre-existing conditions in your pet’s history.

Without these types of coverage, pet insurance rarely makes good financial sense.

Once you’ve found a company you think is a good fit, you begin paying your premiums and coverage begins. Unlike human insurance, you cover the cost of your pet’s vet bill up front. When the visit is over, you and the veterinary staff fill out a form, which is sent to the insurance company, either by fax or the Internet. Then, a check is mailed to you for the part of the visit that is covered. Simple!

Price and Optimal Amount of Coverage

Many pet insurance policies include additional coverage for “wellness plans” that will reimburse you for costs of your pet’s vaccines, routine dental care and heartworm medications. Most people, however, will be more than good with the minimum amount of coverage. The times that pet insurance will really be useful are in case of any accident, genetic disease or chronic illness.

Just as with people, there are so many variables on what amount of coverage is best! You can get minimum coverage that will pay little or large plans that will give high payouts and low deductibles. The plans that make most sense for many people are the ones that are in the $25-$60 per month range.

It’s really important to approach pet insurance with the right mindset: never buy it with the expectation of saving money… if everything goes right and your pet stays healthy, you won’t need your insurance! However, insurance can definitely soften the financial blow if the unexpected happens

Pet expenses can get pricey, quickly. Low to mid-range costs of emergency clinic bills or treating a chronic disease are usually around $500 to $2,500 and high-end treatments can be closer to $4,000.

Other Options

It’s important to get insurance while your pet is healthy—not to wait until an emergency arises, because a good, ethical vet won’t ever falsify your pet’s records for you.

Similarly, canceling your insurance is a really bad idea. As your pet ages, he/she is more likely to need expensive care, and cancelling your policy is like throwing away your money!

Some people say self-insuring or saving is a better idea: put money in a savings account monthly. However, this isn’t a great solution, because puppies and curious kittens can have accidents that rack up expensive bills before you’ve had a chance to build up a large amount of savings.

I hope this guide was helpful to you and will convince you to get insurance for your rescue pet before any emergency occurs. Best of luck!


All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Texas Alliance for Homeless Pets takes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

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